Binge eating disorder is characterized by relentless periods of overeating during which the person feels a loss
of control over his or her intake. Unlike bulimia, binge eating episodes are not followed by purging,
excessive exercise or fasting. As a result, people with binge eating disorder often are overweight or obese.
They also experience guilt, shame and/or distress about the binge eating. After a binge, they frequently try to
diet or eat normal meals. But restricting their eating can lead to more bingeing, continuing the cycle.
Binge eating disorder has only recently started attracting serious attention and there are still questions over its
definition, its unknown how many people are affected. Most estimates say it's the most common of all
eating disorders. Both children and adults can develop binge eating disorder. Binge eating can affect women
or men, though it appears twice as often among women and girls.
Binge eating disorder may cause a person to keep on eating even after they become repulsively full. The
main characteristics of binge eating disorder are repeated, out-of-control phases of devouring unusually large
amounts of food. Those who experience this disorder eat whether they’re hungry or not. Binge eaters are
usually very tormented by their eating behavior and experience feelings of disgust and guilt both during and
after bingeing. Most feel ashamed and try to hide their problem. Many are so good at concealing their binge
eating habits from others that even close family members or friends are unaware they suffer from an eating
Binge eating disorder: Some usual warning signs a of binge eating disorder. The individual:
• Eats large amounts of food when not actually hungry.
• Eats much more rapidly than normal.
• Eats until the point of feeling uncomfortably full.
• Often eats alone because of shame or embarrassment.
• Has a feeling of depression, disgust, or guilt after eating.
• Has a history of obvious weight inconsistency.
Binge eating disorder is not yet officially classified as a mental disorder. Mental health experts hope that
ongoing research will determine if binge eating is a distinct medical condition, a nonspecific type of eating
disorder or simply a group of symptoms. Obese people with binge-eating disorder often have coexisting
psychological illnesses including anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. In addition, links between
obesity and cardiovascular disease and hypertension have been documented.
Some complications can arise from being overweight as a result of frequent bingeing. Other problems may
occur because of unhealthy irregular eating habits or binges followed by periods of calorie limitation. In
addition, food consumed during a binge is often high in fat and low in protein and other nutrients, which
could lead to malnourishment.
Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
Individuals with binge eating disorder regularly eat excessive amounts of food (binge). A binge is considered
eating a larger amount of food than most people would eat under similar circumstances. A binge episode is
typically considered to last about two hours. But the duration also is undetermined, and some experts say
binges can last an entire day.
Physically, individuals with binge eating disorder may show no signs or symptoms. Some may be
overweight or obese, but not always. However, most people who are obese don't have binge eating disorder.
Some people believe that those with binge eating disorder have fewer health risks than those with anorexia or
bulimia, but that's not necessarily true. People with binge eating disorder face a large number of medical
complications. Nevertheless, those suffering from binge eating disorder often have numerous behavioral and
emotional signs and symptoms. These include:
• Eating until the point of discomfort or pain
• Binge eating episodes not accompanied by purging at least 2 times per week
• Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack
• Eating faster during binge episodes
• Feeling that their eating behavior is out of control
• Frequent dieting without weight loss
• Recurrent episodes of binge eating
• Frequently eating alone
• Hoarding food
• Hiding empty food containers
• Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset over the amount eaten
• Depression or anxiety
• Binge eating occurring at least twice a week for at least six months
Binge eating is similar to another eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and some experts think it may be a form
of bulimia. But unlike people with bulimia, who purge after eating, people with binge eating disorder don't try
to rid themselves of the extra calories they consume by self-induced vomiting, overly exercising or other
inappropriate methods. That's why most people with binge eating disorder are overweight. In fact, other
theories say binge eating may be a type of obesity disorder.
As with other eating disorders, in binge eating disorder people are constantly watching and/or unhappy with
their weight, body shape and appearance. Those with binge eating disorder often feel afflicted about their